Daily Picture Show

Where Children Sleep: Portraits From Around The World

Where did you sleep when you were growing up? Did you have a room or share one? What did it look like?

Italy-based English photographer James Mollison says that for him, it would depend on the age. Thinking back to his earliest years in Kenya, where he was born, he remembers teddy bears. A few years later, it was all about mice. Then Duran Duran posters. And later, Army paraphernalia.

Mollison is of the mind that a child's bedroom speaks volumes about his or her circumstances. And if you haven't seen the photos from his book Where Children Sleep yet, take a look and you will probably agree.

  • Joey, 11, lives in Kentucky with his parents and older sister. He regularly accompanies his father on hunts. He owns two shotguns and a crossbow and got his first kill — a deer — at the age of 7.
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    Joey, 11, lives in Kentucky with his parents and older sister. He regularly accompanies his father on hunts. He owns two shotguns and a crossbow and got his first kill — a deer — at the age of 7.
    James Mollison
  • Ahkohxet is 8 years old and a member of the Kraho tribe, which lives in the basin of the Amazon River, in Brazil. There are only 1,900 members of the tribe. The Kraho people believe that the sun and moon were creators of the universe, and they engage in rituals that are many centuries old.
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    Ahkohxet is 8 years old and a member of the Kraho tribe, which lives in the basin of the Amazon River, in Brazil. There are only 1,900 members of the tribe. The Kraho people believe that the sun and moon were creators of the universe, and they engage in rituals that are many centuries old.
    James Mollison
  • Dong is 9 years old. He lives in the province of Yunnan in Southwest China, with his parents, sister and grandfather. He shares a room with his sister and parents. They are a poor family who own just enough land to grow their own rice and sugar cane.
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    Dong is 9 years old. He lives in the province of Yunnan in Southwest China, with his parents, sister and grandfather. He shares a room with his sister and parents. They are a poor family who own just enough land to grow their own rice and sugar cane.
    James Mollison
  • Tzvika is 9 years old and lives in Beitar Illit, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. It is a gated community of 36,000 Haredi (Orthodox) Jews, who live their lives according to a strict religious code set out in the collection of writings known as the Talmud.
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    Tzvika is 9 years old and lives in Beitar Illit, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. It is a gated community of 36,000 Haredi (Orthodox) Jews, who live their lives according to a strict religious code set out in the collection of writings known as the Talmud.
    James Mollison
  • Home for this 4-year-old boy and his family is a mattress in a field on the outskirts of Rome. The family came from Romania by bus, after begging on the streets for enough money to pay for their tickets.
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    Home for this 4-year-old boy and his family is a mattress in a field on the outskirts of Rome. The family came from Romania by bus, after begging on the streets for enough money to pay for their tickets.
    James Mollison
  • Four-year-old Kaya and her parents live in a small apartment in Tokyo.
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    Four-year-old Kaya and her parents live in a small apartment in Tokyo.
    James Mollison
  • Indira lives with her parents, brother and sister near Kathmandu in Nepal. Her house has only one room, with one bed and one mattress. Indira is 7 years old and has worked at the local granite quarry since she was 3.
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    Indira lives with her parents, brother and sister near Kathmandu in Nepal. Her house has only one room, with one bed and one mattress. Indira is 7 years old and has worked at the local granite quarry since she was 3.
    James Mollison
  • Prena lives in Kathmandu. Her room is a tiny, cell-like space at the top of the house where she is employed as a domestic worker. Her diet is mainly rice and vegetables. She is 14 years old and one of thousands of child domestic workers in the country.
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    Prena lives in Kathmandu. Her room is a tiny, cell-like space at the top of the house where she is employed as a domestic worker. Her diet is mainly rice and vegetables. She is 14 years old and one of thousands of child domestic workers in the country.
    James Mollison
  • Lamine, 12, lives in a village in Senegal, western Africa. He is a pupil at the village Quranic school, where no girls are allowed. He shares a room with several other boys from the school.
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    Lamine, 12, lives in a village in Senegal, western Africa. He is a pupil at the village Quranic school, where no girls are allowed. He shares a room with several other boys from the school.
    James Mollison
  • Alyssa, an only child, lives with her parents in Kentucky, in Appalachia — a beautiful, mountainous region that is also one of the poorest parts of America. Their small, shabby house, heated only by a wooden stove, is falling apart. Alyssa's grandmother, uncle and orphaned cousin live close by.
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    Alyssa, an only child, lives with her parents in Kentucky, in Appalachia — a beautiful, mountainous region that is also one of the poorest parts of America. Their small, shabby house, heated only by a wooden stove, is falling apart. Alyssa's grandmother, uncle and orphaned cousin live close by.
    James Mollison
  • Jasmine prefers to be called by her nickname, Jazzy. She lives in a big house in Kentucky with her parents and three brothers. Her bedroom is full of crowns and sashes, which she has won in child pageants. Only 4 years old, she has already been entered in more than 100 of these competitions.
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    Jasmine prefers to be called by her nickname, Jazzy. She lives in a big house in Kentucky with her parents and three brothers. Her bedroom is full of crowns and sashes, which she has won in child pageants. Only 4 years old, she has already been entered in more than 100 of these competitions.
    James Mollison

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"It came about because I was originally asked to come up with an idea for UNICEF's anniversary," he says on the phone. Uninspired by the stereotypical emotive portrait, he wanted to create something that says more.

UNICEF wasn't wild about his pitch, so he ended up tackling it on his own. In some instances, Mollison traveled specifically for this project, but for the most part, he found children to photograph while traveling for other assignments.

The concept doesn't seem like it would be an easy one to explain — especially in places like the remote regions of the Amazon. "People don't want to know what you're up to; why do you wanna go into a kid's bedroom?"

But the concept resonates when you see the images of children, literally worlds apart, juxtaposed on pages. Mollison photographed them all in the same way, he says, to show just how different they really are.

Mollison's book, Where Children Sleep, was released about two years ago, but the images were recently part of a projection series at the Look3 photo festival in Charlottesville, Va.

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